The second stop on our small group wine tour out of Barcelona was at Finca ca n’Estella Winery. Owned by the Rabetllat i Vidal family since 1964, the third generation currently leads the winery. The house on the property dates back to 1847, when the owner was Joan Estella. Also on the property are 150-year-old olive trees (yes, they make olive oil in addition to wine). Our tour guide noted that the Rabetllat I Vidal family wines had won 120 awards since 2002.
The Penedès region of Spain is well known for producing the sparkling wine, Cava. Our tour guide indicated that 90% of the Cava produced in Spain comes from Penedès. She explained that Cava is made using the same method as champagne (that is, the second fermentation takes place in the bottle instead of in a tank), and nine different varieties of grapes can be used. We learned that the aging requirements are 9 months to be called Cava, at least 15 months to be called a Riserva, and at least 30 months to be called a Gran Riserva.
Given the region’s acclaim for sparkling wine, our tasting included three Cavas, although I am told there are high-quality still wines produced as well. One member of our tour group had a glass of Merlot, and she said it was excellent. We tried two Cavas made from Chardonnay, Macabeo, and Xarel-lo grapes but with different lengths of aging. The longer aging process added a delicious complexity to the wine. The last Cava was 100% Xarel-lo, a unique and fabulous wine we all enjoyed.
We started the tasting outside in the courtyard and ended the tasting on an upstairs terrace overlooking the beautiful property. Light snacks of chocolate and a pastry were served. The pastry’s taste and texture reminded me of “elephant ears” made at a local bakery when I was growing up. They are crunchy and flaky, and delicious.
However, the star of this tasting was definitely the Cava, which showcased the family’s wine-making tradition and skill. The view of the courtyard and surrounding property (below) only enhanced this fantastic winery experience.